School districts throughout Kentucky will spend the summer putting the finishing touches on new science curriculum. State Education Commissioner Terry Holliday announced this week that what’s known as the Next Generation Science Standards will be implemented this fall.

Kentucky is one of 26 states that recently worked to develop the new standards.

Next Generation puts greater emphasis on subjects such as physical science, life sciences, earth science, and engineering.

Some school districts across the state have gotten a head start in getting the new standards in place.

“In Barren County, we have already started the implementation, with about half of our grades having made the transition last year, and the other half to make the transition this year,” said Scott Harper, director of instruction and technology for Barren County Schools.

Jennifer Davis, director of elementary and secondary programs for Bowing Green Independent Schools, says the content that students will experience next school year goes beyond learning basic scientific concepts.

“With the new standards, it’s not just a focus on core ideas, but also engineering practices, concepts as to how science is applied in the real world,” Davis told WKU Public Radio. “It’s really about how to teach kids to think scientifically.”

What Does A Good Common Core Lesson Look Like?

Jun 4, 2014

As we're detailing this week, teachers and school leaders have a lot of work to do to adopt curricula aligned with the new Common Core State Standards.

The Common Core Curriculum Void

Jun 3, 2014

Right now, America's schools are in a sprint. Forty-four states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core State Standards. That means new learning benchmarks for the vast majority of the nation's young students — millions of kids from kindergarten through high school. And, for many of them, the Core Standards will feel tougher than what they're used to. Because they are tougher.

A new pioneer has just planted its flag on the ed-tech frontier: the country of Trinidad and Tobago. Its government this week announced the creation of a "national knowledge network" to promote free online learning in partnership with Khan Academy and Coursera. The initiative is part of a broader national strategy of investment in education.

A group of Louisville teachers plans to file a class-action lawsuit claiming the governor and Kentucky General Assembly violated a contractual obligation by deliberately underfunding the teachers' retirement fund by billions of dollars.

Lebanon attorney Theodore Lavit said the lawsuit will name Governor Steve Beshear, Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker Greg Stumbo as defendants in the suit. The potential plaintiffs will seek $11 billion  to restore money to the underfunded Kentucky Teachers Retirement System, which covers about 140,000 teachers across the state, according to sources familiar with the prospective case.

"Some experts believe that in four, maybe five years, at the present funding rate, that it'll be impossible to recapture what's needed," Lavit told Kentucky Public Radio. "There are quite a few teachers upset about the present state of affairs."

Currently, the KTRS pension is funded at about 50 percent, placing it well below what experts say is a pension's proper balance of its assets to its unfunded liabilities—the difference between how much money it has on-hand versus how much it has to pay out in benefits.

Put another way: It's the difference between how much money a household has in its bank account versus how much it owes on its credit card bills. KTRS has about $13.9 billion in such unfunded liabilities—a number that is expected to swell exponentially to about $23 billion in 2015 when new federal accounting standards kick in, according to the most recent numbers.

Members of a Hardin County music group got a big surprise Wednesday.

The North Hardin High School Marching Band has been selected to perform in next year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Macy’s Parade officials worked secretly with school personnel to surprise band members with the news Wednesday afternoon at the school in Radcliff.

Band members were called to the gym for the surprise announcement that they were selected out of hundreds of applicants to be one of ten marching bands to participate in the 2015 parade.

Lexington’s Paul Laurence Dunbar High School marching band is performing in this year’s Macy’s Parade.

The government released the latest national test scores on Wednesday, and the news isn't good: 12th-graders are headed toward graduation, but many don't have the skills they need to succeed in college or work.

The test is the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often referred to as "the nation's report card."

There's plenty of anxiety in the U.S. over getting into a top college. But a new Gallup poll suggests that, later in life, it doesn't matter nearly as much as we think. In fact, when you ask college graduates whether they're "engaged" with their work or "thriving" in all aspects of their lives, their responses don't vary one bit whether they went to a prestigious college or not.

Hardin County Schools

A financial gift from a corporation will allow a Hardin County high school to offer a curriculum designed to help students excel in the STEM fields.

Dow Corning Corporation announced Monday that it’s donating $25,000 to implement the Project Lead The Way program at John Hardin High School. Project Lead the Way is a non-profit effort that designs programs related to science, technology, engineering, and math that are used in over 5,000 schools in the country.

Hardin County Schools spokesman John Wright says Project Lead the Way will open doors for students who excel in the program.

“North Hardin, John Hardin, and Central Hardin engineering students will now get the prerequisites that they need at their home high schools that will allow them to go to our new Hardin County Schools’ Early College and Career Center that opens in August.”

Kentucky high school students worried about the math portion of a statewide assessment test have another reason to be stressed.

The Kentucky Department of Education this week announced it will no longer allow students to use calculators that have the algebra software package Zoom Math while taking the ACT Compass test. That test is taken by high school seniors who haven’t met college-readiness benchmarks on the ACT test taken during their junior year.

Northern Kentucky University Math Professor Steve Newman helped lead the charge against Zoom Math, and says students who knew little algebra were able to use the software to get passing grades on the test.

“And that doesn’t mean they know anything about mathematics, know how to solve equations, or do all the kinds of things that colleges require them to know.” Newman told WKU Public Radio.

Newman says he helped lead several experiments at NKU that looked into the impact of Zoom Math on a test-taker’s ability to get the right answer on the ACT Compass test. The Kentucky Department of Education also conducted similar studies.